Military-industrial complex

Military-industrial complex

A military-industrial complex (MIC) is a concept commonly used to refer to policy relationships between governments, national armed forces, and industrial support they obtain from the commercial sector in political approval for research, development, production, use, and support for military training, weapons, equipment, and facilities within the national defense and security policy. It is a type of iron triangle.

The term is most often used in reference to the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, though the term is applicable to any country with a similarly developed infrastructure. It is sometimes used more broadly to include the entire network of contracts and flows of money and resources among individuals as well as institutions of the defense contractors, The Pentagon, and the Congress and Executive branch. This sector is intrinsically prone to principal-agent problem, moral hazard, and rent seeking. Cases of political corruption have also surfaced with regularity. A similar thesis was originally expressed by Daniel Guérin, in his 1936 book "Fascism and Big Business", about the fascist government support to heavy industry. It can be defined as, “an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs” [Pursell, C. (1972). The military-industrial complex. Harper & Row Publishers, New York, New York.]


The first modern MICs arose in Britain and France in the 1880s and 1890s. The naval rivalry between these two powers was of utmost significance in the fermentation, growth and development of these MICs. Conversely, the existence of these two nations' respective MICs may have been the source of these military tensions. Officers like Admiral Jackie Fisher influenced the shift toward faster technological integration (which meant closer relationships with private, innovative companies). Similar MICs soon followed in nations like Germany, Japan, and the United States.

Industrialists who played a part in the arms industry of this era included Alfred Krupp, Samuel Colt, William G. Armstrong, Alfred Nobel, and Joseph Whitworth.

Technology has always been a part of warfare. Neolithic tools were used as weapons before recorded history. The bronze age and iron age saw the rise of complex industries geared towards the manufacture of weaponry. These industries also had practical peacetime applications, as well; industries making swords in times of war could make plowshares in times of peace, for example. However, it was not until the 19th or 20th century that military weaponry became sufficiently complicated as to require a large subset of industrial effort solely dedicated to warfare. Firearms, artillery, steamships, and later aircraft and nuclear weapons were markedly different from ancient or medieval swords -- these new weapons required years of specialized labor, as opposed to part-time effort. Furthermore, the length of time necessary to build weapons systems of high complexity and massive integration required pre-planning and construction even during times of peace; thus a portion of the economies of the great powers (and, later, the superpowers), was dedicated and maintained solely for the purpose of defense (and war). This trend of coupling some industries towards military activity gave rise to the concept of a "partnership" between the military and private enterprise.

The term is often used to refer to the "complex" in the context of the United States, where the term came into wide use by the public, following its introduction by President Dwight Eisenhower in his "Farewell Address"; the U.S. has a complex which, on an annual basis, accounts for 47% of the world's total arms expenditures [cite web | title = Recent Trends in Military Expenditure | url =] . This also may be due to the ahistorical pattern of the previous ~70 years of military expenditures by the United States; prior to World War I, the U.S. maintained a small military (in comparison to its peers) in times of peace and instead relied on militia or, in later years, reserves, in the event of war; indeed, large-scale spending for arms in times of peace has always been looked upon with suspicion by the people of the United StatesFact|date=April 2008 .

Though the United States never completely demobilized following World War I, and standing forces were maintained to a greater extent in the years that followed it, World War II was the driving force that utterly changed this historical pattern of general neglect of the military. During the Second World War, the United States underwent total mobilization of all available national resources to fight and win, alongside her allies, a total war against Nazi Germany and Militarist Japan, a mobilization of resources far greater than that which took place during the entire previous history of the United States. At the end of the war, East Asia was gravely damaged, and Europe was devastated and literally decimated; several European states abandoned their colonial empires, faced by a loss of moral legitimacy, national will, and military strength; and the United States and the Soviet Union stood as the two remaining great powers left in the world, from that point, known as superpowers.

The United States and the Soviet Union grew suspicious and hostile to one another; faced with a threat immediately following the Second World War, the U.S. only partially demobilized, and left in place a sizable apparatus of military production and large naval, air, and land forces. This period, called the Cold War, represented an 45-year period of low-intensity, unconventional conflict between the superpowers, with the ongoing potential to metastasize into an existential nuclear conflict that could happen with only minutes of notice, would likely destroy both superpowers, possibly cause a new Dark Age, and might even result in the extinction of the human species. And in this time overshadowed by acronyms like M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) and N.U.T.S. (Nuclear Utilization Target Selection), the military-industrial complex rose to great prominence, and power, in the United States.

It is difficult to estimate the degree of dependence of the U.S. economy on its military and defense spending, but it is clearly enormous, and legislators fiercely resist defense cuts that affect their districts. In Washington State, an economistFact|date=April 2008 estimated in 2002 that in Western Washington 166,000 jobs, or about 15% of the workforce, depended directly or indirectly on military installations alone, not counting defense industries. In Washington State overall in FY2001, about $7.06 billion arrived in U.S. Department of Defense payroll, pensions, and procurement contracts—and Washington State was only seventh among the fifty states in this regard.Fact|date=April 2008 Overall, U.S. spending on defense acquisitions and research is equal to 1.2% of the GDP.

Origin of the term

President of the United States (and former General of the Army) Dwight D. Eisenhower used the term in his on January 17, 1961: cquote|A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction... This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

In the penultimate draft of the address, Eisenhower initially used the term "military-industrial-congressional complex", and thus indicated the essential role that the United States Congress plays in the propagation of the military industry. But, it is said, that the president chose to strike the word "congressional" in order to placate members of the legislative branch of the federal government. The actual authors of the term were Eisenhower's speech-writers Ralph Williams and Malcolm Moos. [Griffin, Charles "New Light on Eisenhower's Farewell Address," in Presidential Studies Quarterly 22 (Summer 1992): 469-479]

Attempts to conceptualize something similar to a modern "military-industrial complex" existed before Eisenhower's address. In 1956, sociologist C. Wright Mills had claimed in his book The Power Elite that a class of military, business, and political leaders, driven by mutual interests, were the real leaders of the state, and were effectively beyond democratic control.
Vietnam War-era activists, such as Seymour Melman, referred frequently to the concept. In the late 1990s James Kurth asserted, " [b] y the mid-1980s the term had largely fallen out of public discussion... whatever the power of arguments about the influence of the military-industrial complex on weapons procurement during the Cold War, they are much less relevant to the current era."

Contemporary students and critics of alleged American militarism continue to refer to and employ the term, however. For example, historian Chalmers Johnson uses words from the second, third, and fourth paragraphs quoted above from Eisenhower's address as an epigraph to Chapter Two ("The Roots of American Militarism") of a recent volume [The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004. p. 39] on this subject. Peter W. Singer's book concerning private military companies illustrates contemporary ways in which industry, particularly an information-based one, still interacts with the U.S. Government and the Pentagon. [Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.]

The expressions permanent war economy and war corporatism are related concepts that have also been used in association with this term.

The term is also used to describe comparable collusion in other political entities such as the German Empire (prior to and through the first world war), Britain, France and (post-Soviet) Russia.

Noam Chomsky has suggested that "military-industrial complex" is a misnomer because (as he considers it) the phenomenon in question "is not specifically military." [ [ Interviewed by David Barsamian, "International Socialist Review" 37 (Sep–Oct 2004)] ] . He claims, "There is no military-industrial complex: it's just the industrial system operating under one or another pretext (defense was a pretext for a long time)." [In "On Power, Dissent, and Racism: a Series of Discussions with Noam Chomsky", Baraka Productions, 2003.]

Current Applications

Total world spending on military expenses in 2006 was $1,158 billion US dollars. Nearly half of this total, 528.7 billion US dollars, was spent by the United States [Wikipedia 2008, Arms Industry] The arms industry is also involved in significant research and development of military technology. The privatization of the production and invention of military technology in the US leads to a complicated relationship. In this relationship, the Pentagon is the buyer and war industries are the seller.

Major military manufacturers are in constant competition in selling their goods and technologies. Boeing, Carlyle Group, General Atomics, General Electric, Lockheed-Martin, and Northrop Grumman Corporation are just a few of the corporations that help comprise the military-industrial complex. We can see this competition everywhere in the Iraq War. Five companies submitted bids to the US military for work in Iraq, only three were awarded contracts. Risen, J. (May 24, 2008), "The New York Times" [ Controversial contractor’s iraq work is split up.] ] The corporations that lost a bid protested that the winning companies had been given preferential treatment by the Army. The five companies resubmitted bids a few months later. The second decision resulted in the same three companies being chosen.

The war in Iraq has relied heavily on privatized military. The New York Times reports on May 24, 2008, that the government was in the process of dividing Iraq into three parts. A different contract company would head each section of Iraq. These companies, KBR, Fluor Corporation, and DynCorp International, support the American military’s presence in the country in return for large monetary compensation. Previously, KBR held the monopoly over all of Iraq privatized contracts. Splitting up their operations is a complex process and most people hope that it will be beneficial. This split, however, will most likely significantly increase military spending. KBR was a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company for 44 years until ties were cut in April of 2007. [Wikipedia, 2008. ] KBR has ‘won’ many contracts with the US military during the invasion of Iraq. They alone have collected more than $24 billion dollars since the war began. They employ over 40,000 people in Iraq and 28,000 in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Cultural references

* The Bob Dylan song "Masters of War" was written about the military-industrial complex.
* The concept of the military-industrial complex was heavily examined in the 2005 documentary film "Why We Fight".
* President Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address is featured at the beginning of the 1991 film "JFK".
*The Eisenhower farewell address footage is used in a trailer for the video game "Army of Two".
*A select portion of the speech is included in the song "End of Days (Part 2)" by the band Ministry on their final studio album "The Last Sucker".
*The Rage Against The Machine song "Bulls on Parade" alludes to the military-industrial complex. (Weapons not food, not homes, not shoes... What we don't know keeps the contracts alive and moving)
*Sci-fi series "Ghost in the Shell" uses the term frequently to describe the economic state of certain countries in their future setting. "" also portrays attempts to create a military-industrial complex in Japan by means of coup d'état.
* The video game "" uses the concept of the military-industrial complex holding up the world's economy by the money made through constant fighting.
* In the dystopian novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" it is explained that the endless wars fought in it were solely for economic reasons very like the military-industrial complex.
* The Matthew Reilly novel Scarecrow has as its major antagonists a group of leaders of a worldwide military-industrial complex, hellbent on starting a worldwide war to increase its profits.
* The video game "Civilization Revolution" contains the Military-Industrial Complex as one of its wonders, which you can build after discovering The Corporation.

ee also

* Arms industry
* Blue Sky Tribe
* Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities
* Corporatism
* C. Wright Mills
* Federal Reserve
* List of countries by military expenditures
* Militarism
* Military funding of science
* Military Industrial Media Complex
* Military Keynesianism
* Permanent war economy
* Petrodollar warfare
* Politico-media complex
* Power Elite
* Prison-industrial complex
* Private Military Company
* Project for the New American Century
* Rosoboronexport State Corporation
*"War Is a Racket" (1935 book by Smedley Butler)
*"Why We Fight" (2005 documentary film by Eugene Jarecki)
* Ultra-imperialism
* Upward Spiral
* US/Saudi AWACS Sale
* Erik Prince and Blackwater USA
*"The Power Elite" by C. Wright Mills
*"Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins


*DeGroot, Gerard J. "Blighty: British Society in the Era of the Great War", 144, London & New York: Longman, 1996, ISBN 0-582-06138-5
*Eisenhower, Dwight D. "Public Papers of the Presidents", 1035-40. 1960.
*________. "Farewell Address." In "The Annals of America". Vol. 18. "1961-1968: The Burdens of World Power", 1-5. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1968.
*________. , Wikisource.
*Hartung, William D. [ "Eisenhower's Warning: The Military-Industrial Complex Forty Years Later."] "World Policy Journal" 18, no. 1 (Spring 2001).
*Johnson, Chalmers "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic", New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004
*Kurth, James. "Military-Industrial Complex." In "The Oxford Companion to American Military History", ed. John Whiteclay Chambers II, 440-42. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
*Nelson, Lars-Erik. "Military-Industrial Man." In "New York Review of Books" 47, no. 20 (Dec. 21, 2000): 6.
*Nieburg, H. L. "In the Name of Science", Quadrangle Books, 1970
*Mills, C.Wright."Power Elite", New York,1956


Further reading

*Adams, Gordon, "The Iron Triangle: The Politics of Defense Contracting," 1981.
*Andreas, Joel, "Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism", ISBN 1-904859-01-1, [] .
*Cochran, Thomas B., William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, Milton M. Hoenig, "U.S. Nuclear Warhead Production" Harper and Row, 1987, ISBN 0-88730-125-8
*Colby, Gerard, "DuPont Dynasty, 1984, Lyle Stuart, ISBN 0-8184-0352-7
*Friedman, George and Meredith, "The Future of War: Power, Technology and American World Dominance in the 21st Century", Crown, 1996, ISBN 0-517-70403-X
*Hossein-Zadeh, Ismael, "The Political Economy of US Militarism", Palgrave MacMillan, 2006, ISBN 978-1403972859
*Keller, William W., "Arm in Arm: The Political Economy of the Global Arms Trade" Basic Books, 1995.
*Kelly, Brian, "Adventures in Porkland: How Washington Wastes Your Money and Why They Won't Stop", Villard, 1992, ISBN 0-679-40656-5
*McDougall, Walter A., "...The Heavens and the Earth: A Political HIstory of the Space Age", Basic Books, 1985, (Pulitzer Prize for History) ISBN 0-8018-5748-1
*Melman, Seymour, "Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War", McGraw Hill, 1970
*Melman, Seymour, (ed.) "The War Economy of the United States: Readings in Military Industry and Economy", New York: St. Martin's Press, 1971.
*Mills, C Wright, The Power Elite,New York, 1956.
*Mollenhoff, Clark R., "The Pentagon: Politics, Profits and Plunder", GP Putnam's Sons, 1967
*Patterson, Walter C., "The Plutonium Business and the Spread of the Bomb", Sierra Club, 1984, ISBN 0-87156-837-3
*Pasztor, Andy, "When the Pentagon Was for Sale: Inside America's Biggest Defense Scandal", Scribner, 1995, ISBN 0-684-19516-X
*Pierre, Andrew J., "The Global Politics of Arms Sales", Princeton, 1982, ISBN 0-691-02207-0
*Sampson, Anthony, "The Arms Bazaar: From Lebanon to Lockheed", Bantam, 1977.
*St. Clair, Jeffery, "Grand Theft Pentagon: Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror" , Common Courage Press (July 1, 2005).
*Sweetman, Bill, "In search of the Pentagon's billion dollar hidden budgets - how the US keeps its R&D spending under wraps", from "Jane's International Defence Review", [ online]
*Weinberger, Sharon. "Imaginary Weapons". New York: Nation Books, 2006.

External links

* [] Features running daily, weekly and monthly defense spending totals plus Contract Archives section.
* [ William McGaffin and Erwin Knoll, The military-industrial complex] An analysis of the phenomenon written in 1969
* [ The Cost of War & Today's Military Industrial Complex] - National Public Radio, 8 January 2003.

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  • military-industrial complex — noun the armed forces of a nation together with the industries that supply their weapons and materiel …   Wiktionary

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